Barcelona’s groundbreaking electric scooter company Silence made a name for itself with revolutionary new swappable batteries with built-in trolley wheels. Now the company has brought those same game-changing batteries to four-wheelers as production begins for the Silence S04 micro-car.
The first Silence S04 micro-cars are already rolling off the company’s production line. The pint-size vehicles, which Silence refers to as “nanocars,” are classified as L7e quadricycles in Europe.
They are capable of speeds of up to 85 km/h (53 mph), making them appropriate for city and suburban travel.
The majority of the vehicle is produced in ACCIONA’s new 60,000-square-meter automotive factory located in Barcelona’s Zone Franca.
The batteries are currently still produced in Silence’s own factory nearby in the town of Sant Boi de Llobregat. Battery production for the S04 will eventually also take place in the ACCIONA factory after this initial phase progresses.
The batteries are one of the most innovative components of the already innovative S04. While plenty of other electric micro-cars exist, Silence solved the issue of making batteries large enough for long-range driving without making them too large to be removable for easy at-home charging.
Using the same design as in their scooters, Sillence’s batteries include drop-down wheels that pop out like the wheels on an ambulance gurney when the battery is removed.
A collapsible handle turns the battery into a trolley-style package that looks like an airline carry-on suitcase. The batteries can then be wheeled into a home or up to an apartment for charging remotely. Those that have ground-level charging options available will be able to leave the batteries in the vehicle for charging.
The batteries have a capacity of around 5 kWh each, and the S04 uses two batteries – one on either side – to offer a range of around 150 km (93 miles).
The L7e version of the S04, which has a 14 kW motor, will be followed by a lower-performance L6e version. That model will have a 45 km/h (28 mph) top speed and 6 kW motor, allowing its use by younger drivers and those without a driver’s license, depending on the country.
The two-seater micro-car is designed to offer “the safety and comfort of a car with the agility of a motorcycle.” It features staggered seating for two, providing extra space for the passenger while retaining 247 liters of storage space in the rear. The company describes that as being enough for “store shopping bags or two passenger’s usual luggage.”
The current version will come in two different models. The standard model will be available for purchase outright, while a subscription version will come without batteries – or at least without the customer owning the batteries. Instead, they’ll be part of a swapping system where the owner can either charge the batteries themselves or swap them at a number of swapping stations. That will require a subscription fee but will save the owner around 40% of the upfront cost of purchasing the S04 compared to the model that comes with batteries. So what is that price? A couple of years ago, when the concept was first unveiled, the company stated that it was targeting a price of €7,500 (approximately US $8,000).
It’s a similar model to that used by Gogoro, the leader in the battery-swapping electric scooter industry. Gogoro’s electric scooters come with batteries that aren’t owned by the rider but rather by the company. Riders pay a small fee each month for access to swapping stations, saving them considerably compared to the higher purchase price of expensive batteries.
I’ve kept a keen eye on the electric microcar and quadricycle industry, and this is one model I’ve been following for quite some time. In fact, I might be the first person outside the company to have ever seen it or at least the prototype. While leading me around an area under Silence’s Barcelona headquarters in 2019, a Silence marketing representative took me past a ramp with a curious little tiny car tucked away on it. “Don’t take any pictures of that,” she told me as I poked my head inside, explaining to me that it was a test mule for a four-wheeled project they were working on at the time.
Now here we are, four years later, Silence’s tiny cars are finally rolling off the line, and you better believe that I’m excited to get behind the wheel of one as soon as I possibly can.
Until then, let’s enjoy the cool pictures of this innovative little model and hope to see it hitting the road soon.
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